The first of its kind was delivered to the Army at the 2005 Army Aviation Association of America national convention.

Just shy of six years later, the 1,000th Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor, or MTADS/PNVS, was delivered to the Army and recognized in a celebration Feb. 16, at the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control production facility in Orlando, Fla.

“The only reason I made this trip was to thank you for what you’re doing,” Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby, program executive officer for aviation, told the work force. “I don’t care what you do for this company, you are part of the team that supports our Soldiers.”

Also known as the “eyes of the Apache,” the MTADS/PNVS vastly improves the capabilities of the Legacy system, which was first fielded in 1983. Its most important improvement is the Forward Looking Infrared’s ability to simply see better with visual acuity, measured in resolution, increasing 10-fold. MTADS/PNVS is designed to fly more and require less maintenance and has significantly more diagnostics capability.

“I wish I could talk to your families,” Crosby said, “because they don’t know how influential you have been to the Army.”

Crosby mentioned the countless lives the system has saved because it provided the capability that pilots need to take care of the enemy and to protect the Soldiers on the ground.

A separate ceremony was held in Ocala, Fla., where Lt. Col. John Vannoy, product manager for Apache Sensors, delivered remarks to the workers there who could not attend the ceremony in Orlando.

The MTADS/PNVS, also known as Arrowhead, is the advanced targeting and pilotage system for the Army’s Apache attack helicopter. Noted as the “game-changer” on the battlefield, Col. Shane Openshaw, Apache project manager, said that the sensor helps make the Apache helicopter the most lethal and survivable attack helicopter in the world.

“But we are not done improving it,” Openshaw said.

The dayside part of the sensor still has ’70s technology and has become increasingly more difficult to support. Work is under way for the Modernized Day Sensor Assembly that will complete the modernization of the MTADS to enhance performance and prevent obsolescence.

This will include a new laser, a color television, an internal measurement unit and an image fusion capability. The VNsight, a visible/near infrared sensor, is a low light level camera integrated into the M-PNVS. The VNsight is the first spiral capability to the Arrowhead kits and will provide the warfighter with increased situational awareness and enhanced flight safety, resulting in tactical advantages.

The sensor will continue to evolve like the aircraft.

“Our challenge will be to keep this effort on track and get the next capability in the hands of the war fighter,” Openshaw said.

“Arrowhead has proven itself in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan during nearly 462,000 flying hours since the 1-82 Attack/Recon Battalion was first equipped in June 2005,” Bob Gunning, vice president for fire control at Lockheed Martin, said. “Together, our mission is to produce products that deliver, 100 percent of the time.”

“You are doing hero’s work,” Openshaw told the work force. “The first system you delivered was good. The 1,000th system is significantly better.”

An Apache helicopter from the 1st Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment and its aircrew from the South Carolina Army National Guard were present during the celebration.

“Having the world’s premier attack aircraft with these outstanding Army aviation personnel, both up close and personal, reminds all of us why we never forget who we’re working for,” Gunning said.

“Because the system you design, produce and deliver, do what they expect them to do, our Soldiers have the confidence in the aircraft that they fly in and that sensor that they use to help track the enemy,” Crosby said. “They are willing to face danger every day because of their confidence in the equipment that they use.”